EPA is finalizing a Federal Implementation Plan (FIP) to implement emission limits that represent Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) for certain taconite ore processing facilities in Minnesota and Michigan. The Clean Air Act (CAA or the “Act”) and the regional haze rule require implementation plans to contain BART emission limits for sources subject to BART in order to meet the national goal of preventing any future and remedying any existing impairment of visibility in mandatory class I Federal areas arising from manmade air pollution. This final rule is effective on March 8, 2013.
The regional haze rule required states to submit State Implementation Plans (SIPs) to implement the rule’s requirements in 2007. Neither Minnesota nor Michigan submitted regional haze SIPs by the required date. In 2009, EPA formally found that both Minnesota and Michigan had failed to timely submit SIPs addressing the regional haze requirements, which triggered EPA’s duty to either promulgate a regional haze FIP for Minnesota and Michigan or approve subsequently submitted regional haze SIPs.
Minnesota subsequently submitted to EPA a regional haze SIP in 2009, a draft supplement in January 2012, and a final supplement in May 2012. EPA had previous approved in part the both states’ regional haze SIPs for addressing most regional haze requirements. However, EPA deferred action on the states’ BART determinations for taconite facilities in order to further evaluate the sufficiency of those determinations. On August 15, 2012, EPA proposed to disapprove in part the states’ regional haze SIPs with regards to their BART determinations for taconite facilities, and to propose a FIP. Although EPA has not finalized its disapproval of the states’ BART determinations, EPA believes it has the continuing authority and obligation to promulgate a FIP based on its earlier finding that Minnesota and Michigan had failed to timely submit regional haze SIPs. EPA’s duty to promulgate a FIP ends only when it has fully approved a state submission.